Elly Nedivi looks at the camera before a backgrond of flasks and bottles on shelves in her lab

Elly Nedivi

William R. (1964) & Linda R. Young Professor of Neuroscience
Investigator in The Picower Institute for Learning and Memory
Professor, Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences
Professor, Department of Biology
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Contact Info

Office: 46-3225
Phone: 617-253-2344

Administrative Assistant

Charles Moss
Office: 46-3241
Phone: 617-452-2070
Email: vmoss@mit.edu

Candidate Plasticity Genes

To understand the cellular mechanisms that underlie activity-dependent plasticity in the developing and adult brain, we are identifying and characterizing the participating genes and the function of the proteins they encode. This work began with the cloning of a large number of activity-regulated genes that we termed candidate plasticity genes (CPGs). It turned out that the CPG pool is highly enriched for genes important for neuronal survival, connectivity, and synaptic transmission, suggesting that activity-regulated genes are critical for the development and function of brain circuits.

We have elucidated the neuronal and synaptic function of two previously unknown CPGs, CPG2 and CPG15, and characterized their very different activities, showing that each provides unique insight into diverse aspects of plasticity mechanisms. Both molecules have subsequently become well known, CPG15 (later name neuritin) as an extracellular ligand with multiple roles (also outside the nervous system), and CPG2 as a product of SYNE-1, one of the best genetic hits for bipolar disorder. These two genes are still the focus of some research projects in the lab. Recently, we have returned to the CPG pool for identification of additional genes of interest.

Structural Plasticity in Cortical Circuits

Motivated by the large number of CPGs that affect neuronal structure, we have also been collaborating with Peter So’s lab in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at MIT to develop multi-photon microscopy for large volume, high resolution imaging of dendritic arbor and synaptic structural dynamics in vivo. Using this system, we have chronically imaged and reconstructed the dendritic trees of neurons in visual cortex of thy1-GFP transgenic mice through surgically implanted cranial windows. Our lab was the first to show unambiguous evidence of dendritic growth and retraction and of branch tip additions in the adult brain. Surprisingly, our data singled out GABAergic interneurons as those capable of structural dynamics, suggesting that circuit rearrangement is restricted by cell type-specific rules.

By combining chronic two-photon microscopy in vivo with classic visual manipulations, we showed that experience drives structural remodeling of superficial cortical layer 2/3 interneurons in an input- and circuit-specific manner. Recently, we have developed methods for labeling and chronic monitoring of excitatory and inhibitory synapses across entire neuronal arbors in the mouse visual cortex in vivo. We are currently using these methods to examine different types of input onto layer 2/3 pyramidal cells, as well as the timing of constructive and destructive events in terms of pre and postsynaptic components.

Elly Nedivi received her Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Stanford University Medical School and completed her postdoctoral training at The Weizmann Institute in Israel. In 1998, after two years at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, she joined the faculty of the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences and the Picower Institute for Learning and Memory at MIT. She also has an appointment in the Department of Biology at MIT.

  • BCS Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, 2018

  • American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), Fellow, 2016
  • AFAR Julie Martin Mid-Career Award in Aging Research, 2007 – 2011
  • Edgerly Innovation Fund Award, 2006
  • Dean’s Education and Student Advising Award, 2003
  • NSF Powre Award, 1999
  • Alfred P . Sloan Research Fellowship, 1999 – 2001
  • Ellison Medical Foundation New Scholar Award, 1997 – 2002
Featured publications are below. For a full list visit the lab website linked above.

January 4, 2019
Rathje M, Waxman H, Benoit M, Tammineni P, Leu C, Loebrich S, Mol Psychiatry. 2019 Jan 4
September 26, 2018
Eavri R, Shepherd J, Welsh CA, Flanders GH, Bear MF, Nedivi E. J Neurosci. 2018 Sep 26;38(39):8421-8432
August 1, 2018
Boivin JR, Nedivi E. Curr Opin Neurobiol. 2018 Aug;51:16-22.
September 27, 2017
Berry, KP, Nedivi, E. 2017. Neuron 96, 43-55
October 1, 2016
Berry, KP, Nedivi, E. 2016. Annu Rev Vis Sci 2, 17-35.

Look and Learn: Studying the visual system

March 13, 2020
Research Feature
Research on how the brain processes sight has told neuroscientists much about how the brain works more broadly

Fundamental questions find advanced answers, approaches at Fall Symposium

October 18, 2019
Experts from around the world discuss "Neural Mechanisms of Memory and Cognition"

How brain cells pick which connections to keep

August 6, 2019
Research findings
Novel study shows protein CPG15 acts as a molecular proxy of experience to mark synapses for stabilization

Nedivi named to new professorship

February 7, 2019
Picower People
Elly Nedivi is the inaugural William R. (1964) & Linda R. Young Professor of Neuroscience

Study shows how specific gene variants may raise bipolar disorder risk

January 9, 2019
Research findings
Findings could help inform new therapies, improve diagnosis

Dozens from Picower present research at SfN

November 13, 2018
Recent Events
Researchers take part in field's largest annual exchange of ideas

Antidepressant restores youthful flexibility to aging inhibitory neurons in mice

August 20, 2018
Research findings
Neural plasticity, dendrite growth decline with age, study finds

The Developing Brain

July 11, 2018
News feature
Development research yields discoveries, insights, innovations

Four MIT faculty elected 2016 AAAS Fellows

November 21, 2016
Green, Ketterle, Nedivi, and Shrobe are among those recognized for their efforts toward advancing science.

Aygul Balcioglu

Research Associate

Josiah Boivin

Postdoctoral Fellow

Kendyll Burnell

Technical Assistant

Rebecca Gillani

Postdoctoral Fellow

Simin Manole

Technical Assistant

Charles Moss

Administrative Assistant

Dalila Ordonez

Postdoctoral Associate

Prasad Tammineni

Postdoctoral Fellow

Katherine Villa

Postdoctoral Associate